Trails into Reverie Review
In our review, we won’t give you any story spoilers for this or any of the other Trails games. We’ll only give you a basic premise of the first few hours of this title’s plot.
Trails into the Reverie is an amazing conclusion and epilogue to both the Erebonia and Crossbell arcs in the Trails series (or Kiseki as it’s named in Japan). It’s a very fun turn-based JRPG with many customization options for making distinct character builds, many difficulty options, many collectibles and many quality of life improvements making the gameplay the most fun it’s ever been. The world-building is amazing, and there are numerous callbacks to supporting characters from older Trails games without flanderizing them. The developers have also learnt from the faults of the previous games and have introduced many quality of life improvements.
This is the 10th entry in the Trails franchise and in all honesty this wouldn’t be the best place to start if you’re new to this game series. The plot of this game follows from Trails of Cold Steel 4, which follows from 1-3 of course, and it also follows from Trails to Zero and Trails to Azure. It follows from Trails in the Sky 1 to 3 as well, though the other arcs are extremely important to complete. So in a way, this game actually concludes two arcs rather than just one making it even more important to play the older games. While I used to suggest you could play the earlier Cold Steel games without playing the other games, this game really feels like the “Avengers” of the Trails games, with an all-star cast of characters solving a new conflict in Crossbell.
In this game you actually have three parties of characters, meaning you have three protagonists. You can switch between these groups after the prologue at almost any time barring certain exceptions. Some dungeons later in the game actually require multiple parties to explore at once to trigger switches for the other party, which is not something I seen in JRPGs too frequently and is certainly welcome (Infinite Undiscovery is one rare game that did this a while ago with great dungeon designs).
It’s really fun and novel because you can do whoever’s story you’re interested in first, and if you even feel like just changing your mind you can just switch whenever and not lose progress. At first I was overwhelmed with all of the equipment and quartz I had to manage for all of the characters, but I got used to it quickly and even though there are three parties of characters you get used to them quickly.
The game is organized into multiple acts with these three protagonists, but you need to complete them in a certain order and sometimes you’ll get locked in one route until you complete enough of the other routes. In general you’d complete all act 1’s to go to act 2, etc, with a climax chapter wrapping up all the loose plot threads.
The story in this game is decent and the character development is phenomenal. One aspect I don’t always like in gaming is that in sequels often the developers don’t use the old characters and make entirely new parties of characters. But in Trails this is not the case, and in fact the character development spans across multiple games and you always see almost every single character make a return in newer entries, and often they’ll be aged up appropriately too.
You play as Rean, Lloyd, and the mysterious character “C” who I won’t spoil of course. The former two are the protagonists of the Cold Steel and Trails to Zero/Azure arcs, respectively. If you’ve played those games (and I won’t spoil them of course) you’d probably be wondering where the plot would go from there because those arcs seemed to conclude rather nicely. But this game starts off with Lloyd in Crossbell, and managed to introduce a new conflict well without making it feel forced.
I was also a bit tired because I thought there would be character bloat with the addition of a new protagonist “C” and his new party of members. But surprisingly, C along with their group ended up being my favorite characters in this game! I can’t elaborate more on this without giving spoilers and the C reveal is the main reveal of this game, but they have really great character development and their attitude and how they approach problems is very different than Rean or LLoyd, who are both very plain “straight shooter” kind of characters.
I genuinely wouldn’t have minded if the entire game was centered around C and his party, that’s how interesting he was as a character! The routes definitely don’t have the same quality, but most of them are generally well-made without being too repetitive. Whereas Cold Steel 4 had a rushed ending, Trails into Reverie actually helps flesh it out and fix the ending of Cold Steel 4, retroactively fixing rushed plot points.
It was very interesting to see how Rean and Lloyd’s teams have grown from their older titles. For instance, now they know how to handle terrorist activities whereas in older games they would’ve made mistakes or panicked.
There are numerous callbacks to older characters from the series as well and this game ends up being an opportunity to showcase combinations of characters you don’t get to see interact. All of the Trails games have NPCs that tell you about the world and current events, and you can talk to them after every plot event for completely new dialogue, resulting in hundreds of pages’ worth of extra dialogue and world-building if you choose to pursue it.
I’m not too crazy for that, I generally talk to all NPCs in a new area before and after a big plot event and that’s about it, but I noticed this Trails game did one thing different: it has a lot more important NPCs such as old playable characters or old major supporting characters from the older games which is a very great attention to detail.
The art style is very charming, and with every new title released the graphics improve more and more. There’s no 2D sprites or clunky models anymore, the characters all have really great designs and models. The cities genuinely feel like large bustling cities, while the rural towns and villages manage to capture a beautiful rustic feel, and I often found myself looking at the backgrounds of Ymir and the Nord Highlands and having a really relaxed feeling.
The soundtrack manages to capture the moods of the areas and many tracks in this title are from older titles, but re-made with modern technology such as in many of the districts of Crossbell or St. Ursula Medical College. I played the recent releases of Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure recently, but they had many great tracks I’d hum in my head and it was wonderful seeing they captured the spirit of the original Crossbell games.
Many of the characters in older Trails titles had 2D sprites due to technological limitations at the time, but when they re-appeared in this title they have 3D models now, and the artists managed to translate their 2D portraits into 3D models seamlessly. None of the new faces for these characters looks weird or out of place. There are clipping issues with hair and outfits every once in a while, but it’s not really a big issue.
I played Trails to Reverie on my PC, and I had no technical problems whatsoever and the PC port of this game is well-optimized, especially compared to old Falcom games ported to PC. It’s great that this title has a PC release when the game released in North America as well, rather than having a PC port months after a release.
There aren’t too many criticisms I have regarding this game. A small issue is that this is a shorter game compared to most mainline Trails games. Usually Trails games have very long main story modes and when you do sidequests you’d end up with an 80+ hour playthrough. This game’s main story isn’t so long though, taking us about 30-45 hours to complete. There is a lack of major story sidequests like all other Trails games (but you do get character episodes to compensate). I was also disappointed by the lack of Divine Knight battles, which was basically fighting in giant magical mechs in all the previous Cold Steel games. It is a little odd seeing Crossbell facing another dire situation, considering how many back-to-back hardships the country has had in the past few games.
But although the main story of this game is shorter, this game makes up for it with the “True Reverie Corridor”. It’s tricky to summarize what the TRC is briefly, but it’s basically a non-canon area you can warp to anytime during the game. Plotwise, everybody loses their memories temporarily while in the TRC. You can use all your party members, or basically any playable character from the older titles, to explore randomly generated floors to get treasures and you can grind and buy new equipment as well as complete missions for rewards.
If you care about story, there are memories in the TRC which are sorted into episodes that explore certain supporting characters in-depth. There are post-game bosses as well. Or, if you don’t care about story or more bosses there is an insane amount of mini-games to play, such as Vantage Masters (a Falcom card game) or Pom! (basically Puyo Puyo), or even hanging out on the beach with all the characters just to name a few possible activities.
In Japan the TRC was more barebones and had a giant patch to update it after the game was originally released, but in this English localization all of this content is available from day one. So although the main story of this game is shorter, the TRC is very fun to explore and play around in and adds a lot of extra content.
Trails into Reverie does an excellent job of placing the player into a beautifully crafted world filled with well-developed characters, intricate storytelling, and addicting gameplay. The attention to detail with characters is amazing with all of the call-backs to older games. Even NPCs from older games are always present, and although Falcom re-uses assets it never feels like there was any blatant “copying and pasting”.
Trails into Reverie improves upon the older titles on a technical level, and all of the returning locations from older games feel visually distinct and character models have are more detailed than ever. Having three protagonists was ambitious, but it worked out well and the new cast of characters in C’s route are extremely interesting, with distinct personalities, motivations and backstories. The turn-based gameplay is fun, but also accessible and if you want to break the game you can. There’s a lot of customization through equipment and quartz which changes the spells your characters can use or you can grind levels to gain stats. The soundtrack features both new original tracks as well as re-made tracks from older games and they really manage to capture the emotional moments in the game. This isn’t a perfect game, as some of the routes do drag on for a bit too long and it is true that the game does recycle certain areas in a bad way such as the highways you always see, but generally it’s not too egregious. Just be certain to play the other games first, as this game really feels like a conclusion, or even an epilogue to the old Trails games.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie
- Although the overall story can be lacking, some routes such as the C route have an amazing narrative. The amount of callbacks to older Trails games’ characters is astonishing and there is amazing weorld-building.
- The turn-based combat is extremely refined, with many quality of life improvements and numerous ways to customize your characters’ equipment and skills.
- The graphics are decent, with improved character models compared to older titles.
- The True Reverie Corridor adds a lot of gameplay, where you can control dozens of characters in a non-canon environment. You can play several mini-games, or enter randomly-generated floors to grind your characters. The most notable is unlocking character episodes that flesh out further details regarding supporting characters.
- The re-used assets from older Trails games can be a little tiring at times, and some of the maps such as the highways can be dull to explore.
- Although the C Route has an amazing narrative and is a very refreshing change of pace, some of the other routes have a repetitive narrative (Crossbell being in trouble yet again).
– Brandon Harris
Reviewed on the PC